On This Day, Republicans Make a Pledge to AmericaS

Here we go, America! House Republicans have finally leaked their long-promised platform for the midterm elections, called the "Pledge to America." They're formally unveiling it today at a Virginia hardware store. Let's do a quick lil' run-through, shall we?

This is the Republicans' 2010 iteration of Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract with America," which is conventionally considered the linchpin for their takeover of Congress that year. There's not really any evidence that any Americans ever read the "Contract" going into those midterms, but hey, it has a reputation. So here we are today, facing a similar electoral landscape, and House Republicans are giving us the "Pledge to America." All in all, this is a good thing. It adds a little more definition to their past two years of shouting.

The "Pledge" opens with an inspiring preamble, a paean to our national ideals: Freedom, liberty, the other ones. It's mostly hilarious, and tiresome. Here's a snippet! Plug your nose and jump right in:

America is more than a country.

America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government's powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.

America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course. [...]

In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent.

An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people.

An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.

It goes on, but this is probably about when you're starting to look at your watch.

After the inspiring preamble, we get an inspiring foreword! Since most of the GOP's complaints over the past two years have been about reckless, out-of-control spending and deficits, here's one very telling sentence in the foreword:

With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to balance the budget and pay down the debt.

HMM. This one sentence exemplifies why some prominent conservatives are already trashing the "Pledge": it's so damn modest and short-term, a wishy-washy palliative for this year's elections. Because if you make "common-sense exceptions" to cuts for Medicare, Social Security and defense, then that, along with interest payments on the national debt (mandatory) and massive corporate subsidies across the board (unlikely to ever end), you're left with a few meager percentage points of spending to trim. So they'll attempt to squeeze on non-defense discretionary spending and supposedly cook up $100 billion in cuts (easier said than done, again!) Pretty much the same situation we're in now.

What else?

  • "Repeal and replace" Obama's health care law with things like medical malpractice reform, selling insurance policies across state lines, and other damaging regulatory weakeners that would further cartelize the health industry and lead to constant death. Obama would veto the dickens out of this, obviously.
  • Permanently extend all the Bush tax cuts, adding $4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. What was that about the $100 billion cuts earlier?
  • "Enforce sanctions on Iran."
  • "Keep terrorists out of America." (This means keeping Guantanamo Bay open. But presumably they also want to keep terrorists out of America in general, contra the Obama administration.)
  • Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac! This is actually something they could work on with Democrats, since the mortgage giants are in serious need of a plan going forward. But you can't just pull the plug on them immediately, since that would destroy the entire U.S. housing sector (again).
  • Abortion is bad.
  • Gay marriage, can't have that.
  • "Adhere to the Constitution."
  • "Make It Easier to Cut Spending."

Let's end with that, "Make it Easier to Cut Spending." It sure would be nice if this could all just be "made easier." But it's pretty hard to run a country like the United States these days.

[Image via AP]